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  • Writer's pictureGeeks Without Frontiers


Tribal Digital Literacy and Skills Building Realized Through Partnership with the ‘N50 Project’

AUSTIN, TEXAS, UNITED STATES , May 23, 2023/ -- Tribal communities’ recent successes in boot-strapping indigenous digital programs are taking center stage. The hard-won recognition comes at a time when tribal communities have begun to build upon and leverage locally-led digital inclusion initiatives powered by private-sector partnerships.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work alongside tribal leaders, anchor institutions, and community members through the N50 Project,” said Travis Heneveld, Director of Indigenous Programs at Geeks Without Frontiers, a non-profit organization that serves as the N50 Program Management Office. “Native-led programs and their leadership in the N50 Project are accelerating efforts to transform digital literacy, digital inclusion, and the development of a digital workforce.”

The power of collaboration with tribes can be seen through multiple N50 Partners:

To meet the needs of adult learners in a digital literacy context, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy partnered with Digital Promise to create a resource guide, Promoting Digital Literacy for Adult Learners, which is a key feature of a current N50 tribal project.

Digital participation is being enabled through Dell Technologies’ donation of Chromebook laptops to every family in the Lone Pine Reservation, whose Members have used the technology to drive digital adoption to unprecedented levels.

To support digital inclusivity, Intel supported implementation of an Innovation Lab, based on state-of-the-art Intelligent Desktop Virtualization (IDV) systems.

"The advancement of digital skills and collaboration amongst our nations is critical to confirming traditional environmental knowledge, continuing traditional practices, solidifying relationships with Nations globally, and expanding sovereignty in its many forms," said NüComm Co-Founders Mariah David and Jesse Archer. "The partnership with 'The N50 Project' is helping to strengthen our collective resilience as we work towards shaping and controlling our digital futures."

Digital Literacy: A Tribal Case Study

Digital literacy has a direct impact on many aspects of indigenous people’s lives, from finding job opportunities to managing a household to supporting family members in their health, educational endeavors, or their own journeys using technology.

This was at the heart of a partnership with the NüComm Alliance – a broadband alliance of tribes – together with the Barbara Bush Foundation, Dell and Intel as part of the N50 initiative. Together, the tribes have worked with the organizations to develop a usability study around digital skills building at the Lone Pine Paiute Reservation in the Eastern Sierra (traditionally known as Payahuunadü), a remote area covering Inyo and Mono Counties in California.

Initial training began in January 2023, with the Barbara Bush Foundation training volunteers on how to use the guide as a supplemental support to a digital literacy curriculum. In addition, the Barbara Bush Foundation continues to provide technical assistance and resources to support the effectiveness of the digital skills mentoring. This may include session planning or sourcing resources to support residents. For more information visit or twitter @NuAlliance

“Technology is a lifeline for so many of us – allowing us to work, learn, and connect with friends and family. But we know that many fellow Americans struggle with digital literacy during a time when jobs are becoming more automated and require greater technological skills," said British A. Robinson, President and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation. "Access to devices and connectivity are important, but it is critical that every adult is equipped with the skills to use technology so that they can fully participate in our society as parents, workers and citizens."

Digital literacy mentoring kicked off on Monday, May 15 in Lone Pine. The IDV lab has been installed, and residents now have the opportunity to work with a mentor focusing on digital literacy goals that tie to their personal and professional interests. This lab shows exemplary collaboration between N50 partners NüComm, Geeks without Frontiers, Dell Technologies, Intel, and the Barbara Bush Foundation.

According to the April 2023 issue of N50 Connect, “NüComm will facilitate workforce development in the Owens Valley and the surrounding region and will lead to the creation of well-paid tech jobs in the region.” With the release of the Closing the Digital Skill Divide report – which stated that “92% of jobs analyzed require digital skills” – it is clear that partnerships such as this support individuals building much needed digital literacy skills and resilience.

About N50 Project: N50 is the Geeks Without Frontiers-led initiative that is focused on the next 50% of the planet that does not have full digital participation. The N50 partners' primary focus is to launch projects for marginalized communities using best-practice playbooks for long-term delivery of connectivity solutions. N50 is an open, inclusive ecosystem that is fueling transformation in some of the world's most challenging environments. Our live “Digital Participation” projects in the field are designed to enable communities to access the education, health, social, and financial benefits that flow from affordable and sustainable digital inclusion. For more information, please visit or on Twitter @n50project.

About the Indigenous Resilience Network: An indigenous-led network promoting workforce development, broadband strategies, digital skills, and community enrichment backed by the N50 global alliance.

To learn about these N50 Partners (Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, Dell Technologies, Intel and The Nü Communications Alliance) and others, please visit:

About Geeks Without Frontiers

Geeks Without Frontiers is an award-winning platform for global impact. A technology neutral nonprofit, Geeks’ mission is to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity – health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality, and the other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) – to the estimated 3.9 billion people who remain unconnected. For more information, please visit or on Twitter @GeeksWF.

Press Officer Geeks Without Frontiers email us here

The N50 Project: Bridging the Digital Divide - Progress Starts with Partnership

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